“The Next Time She Needs a Pap Smear at 3 AM . . . “

Sunset, Turks and Caicos Islands

Sunset, Turks and Caicos Islands

By Christine Moffa, MS, RN-BC,
AJN clinical editor

Vacations are an important part of keeping balanced in life and a good way to prevent career burnout. However, I’m sure that, like me, many of you have had to step out of relaxation mode to come to the aid of some unfortunate vacationer who either injured herself or himself trying a new activity, had a near drowning at the beach, or suffered some other tragedy.

I’ve just returned from a trip with six friends to Turks and Caicos. There was beach, sun, a lot of activities like snorkeling and the flying trapeze, and unlimited food and alcohol; in other words, it was the perfect set-up for a trip to the infirmary. (I once had a three-week nursing gig at a resort, so I know the usual ailments: overindulgence in food, alcohol, and sun; twisted ankles from people playing sports they haven’t attempted in the last 10 years; and the occasional serious accident or heart attack.)

Two days into the trip, one of my co-travelers fell ill with food poisoning, which resulted in a day’s worth of vomiting. At 2 a.m. my phone rang. It was this friend telling me that not only was she sick, but she’d just hit her head while running to the bathroom. The resort’s nurse was on call until midnight; after that time the guests were on their own, so I had to step in.

I didn’t think much about it, but later when we were telling people what had happened I couldn’t believe how many asked the question, “why would you call the nurse when there are two physicians in your group?” Really? Outranked again. Did they really think an OB/GYN would be better equipped than an RN at giving basic first aid? And some of these people were my friends!

It so happened that our rooms were next to each other, so I got the call. Finally, after enough of these comments, I said to them, “the next time she needs a Pap smear at three in the morning, she can call one of the OB/GYNs—aside from that, I’ve got it covered.”

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Senior editor/social media strategy, American Journal of Nursing, and editor of AJN Off the Charts.


  1. Ana Isaura Delgado A April 4, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    Creo Que ESTA es la historia de los Viajes detodos Los Enfermeros del Mundo, Cuando amamos Lo Que HACEMOS es Muy dificil darnos Hablar Cuenta Que tambien NECESITAMOS Descanso y de Otras Cosas Que No Sean Hospitales y Enfermedades

  2. Kelly April 3, 2010 at 8:25 am

    I hear you! As an ED nurse and now Clinical Nurse Specialist, I still get “are you sure?” Great post!

  3. peggy April 2, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    Nice! Sounds like a great trip…

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